If you want to be generous, it’s good to be rich

I love the saying, “If you want to be generous, it’s good to be rich.”

Today’s post shows how you can make use of that wisdom to give from the overflow of your own inner richness.

Let’s begin by looking at when life is calling on you to give and what life is calling on you to give.

When is life calling on you to give?

You’re being called to give when you feel that “tugging in your heart.” You’re likely to feel that tugging…

When someone is needy. When you see someone having a difficult time, you may feel called to give of your heart to them. When a friend, or someone you love, or even a stranger is upset, you may feel called to extend your heart.

When someone is difficult. You probably aren’t only asked to give of yourself when someone is being openly needy, though. You may also feel the call to give of yourself when someone is being a jerk.

A lot of us don’t want to respond “in kind” when someone is being a jerk. We want to give from our hearts, even when someone else isn’t. We don’t want to respond to “jerk” with “jerk.” We want to bring goodness and add beauty, no matter how others are behaving.

When someone is human. Your heart may be called to give when someone you care about is messing up. Perhaps a friend is not acting with integrity, or a loved one does something stupid for the seemingly zillionth time. Our hearts are called to bring something good to them, even though they are being difficult in their humanity.

What is life calling on you to give?

In each of these instances, you are called to give something from your heart…. And I think a good word to describe what you are being called to give is “mercy.”

I’d probably be right if I said that you want to be merciful to the people in your world. You probably want to be a person who sees and loves humanity, underneath everything that everyone is doing around you, no matter what they are doing. That’s being merciful.

You may need to be strong and forceful sometimes; you may need to be gentle at other times; but under it all, you probably want to be a wellspring of mercy, no matter how people behave.

But you run out steam

You want to be merciful to those in your world, but you run out of steam.

And that’s when it’s smart to remember the saying, “If you want to be generous, it’s good to be rich.”

If you are going to give from what’s overflowing inside of you — and if what you need to give is mercy — then you need to be overflowing with mercy.

So how can you be overflowing with mercy?

Just as a financially rich person is personally benefitted by the money they are overflowing with, if you want to be rich in mercy, you have to personally benefit from the mercy you are overflowing with.

That’s right: You need to be overflowing with the experience of mercy for yourself, if you’re going to bring that mercy to others.

It’s worth taking a moment to acknowledge what a big order this is. You need to be willing to say “I’m going to be so overflowing with mercy for myself that I’ll be able to extend mercy to others, from my overflow.”

You have to be willing to say, “If I’m going to be generous with mercy, then first I have to be rich.”

Let’s make a deal

Being rich in mercy first, and then giving it to others, is the opposite of what most people do.

Most people try to give mercy first, and receive it second. It’s as if they believe that if they show enough mercy for others, it will make them worthy of receiving mercy in return.

It’s as if people are saying, “Let’s make a deal! If I give mercy properly, I’ll show I deserve it for me!” But that’s not how mercy works. Making a “deal” goes against the very nature of mercy. Mercy is inherently not earned. It’s given freely to the undeserving.

Because mercy is something that’s freely given, not something that you make a deal for, you need to be able to receive it before you deserve it. That’s at the core, at the heart of what mercy is.

After all, when you are at your best and you give mercy to others, you’re not saying “let’s make a deal.” You’re not telling them, “Jump through some hoops and then I’ll give you mercy.” You’re simply being merciful.

So if you are going to be rich in mercy — so you can give it to others — you have to receive it for yourself… first.

An exercise for being rich with mercy

Okay, so how do you do that? How do you become rich in mercy so that the overflow is available to others?

You become rich in mercy by experiencing it for yourself.

Let’s do that now.

First, think about something you need mercy for in your life. It doesn’t have to be something big. In fact, it might make sense to start with something small.

Think of some small transgression you’ve made, or some area in your life where you weren’t being the person you want to be.

Perhaps it’s a time you didn’t keep your word, or did something selfish, or got away with something and now feel badly about it.

Whatever it is, when you connect with the emotion of it, you will probably feel somewhat isolated and cut off. (In fact, you can know when you need mercy because it leaves you with a feeling of being cut off and alone.)

Second, see the “you” that needs that mercy. Now see before you the “you” that needs mercy. See that part of you like you would see someone else, having that experience of needing mercy for something.

Third, open to the Source of mercy. Mercy isn’t something you can generate yourself. You need to be given it by your sense of Source, Something Higher, or your Deepest Heart.

You receive that mercy by looking for it, with the expectation of finding it. You open to discovering it, and let it do whatever it does in you.

Fourth, allow that mercy to flow into you, and fill you to overflowing. Allow yourself to be connected to the Source of mercy, and experience what it’s giving you. Let it fill you up to overflowing.

Fifth, let that overflowing mercy go to that “you” in front of you.

You may even imagine reaching our your hands to give some sort of blessing to this part of you that needs mercy.

Sixth, allow yourself to become that part of you that needs mercy, and receive it as it flows to you. Let yourself experience the mercy that flows through you, to you…

And finally, notice how that mercy changes you. Really let yourself notice what the mercy does in you, rather than having an agenda for it. Notice how you feel different as the mercy goes into you. Let it fill you to overflowing. And let yourself feel the effect of that mercy as you go about your life.

The cloak of mercy

I like to say that doing this exercise is like stepping into the “cloak of mercy.” When you wear the cloak of mercy you are rich in mercy, and you’ll find that giving mercy to others, when you are rich in it yourself, is an easy thing to do.

Training yourself to fill yourself with mercy, first, may seem like a big project. But you can do it in little pieces, and it’s a project that will pay major dividends. As you practice overflowing with mercy for yourself, it will become more and more natural and automatic.

You’ll go from trying to figure out how to be good enough to receive mercy (even while you’re attempting to give it to others), to overflowing with it, naturally. Once you¬†experience¬†that sense of overflowing mercy for yourself, you’ll find that giving mercy to others is an automatic and pleasurable thing to do.

P.S. A weight-loss milestone reached

If you’ve been following my “Lose-weight-without-suffering-and-without-will-power” project, you may be interested to know that I reached a minor milestone today.

A few months ago, I bought a pair of pants a size too small for me, then forgot about them. This morning my wife Fawn was complaining that the pants I was wearing were too baggy, and I remembered the “too-small” pants…

And now they fit! I’m comfortably wearing them now.

Related Posts about compassion

You may also be interested in…

Self-compassion: Healing’s secret ingredient

How to be the “empty cup” that calls forth compassion and healing

When asking “why” is a big mistake

About Dmitri


  1. Leslie says:

    This is lovely stuff, Dmitri. Thanks for the reminder–it’s good to be rich! :)

    I think you are right, that most of us are stuck trying to “make a deal,” forgetting that “the real thing” doesn’t come by means of a business transaction.


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